Birth Right

Philosophy

You already know how I feel about vaccines and the trend of parents who feel they cause autism. (I will never fail to follow this up with the fact that it does NOT cause autism and there is no evidence that it does.)

Lately, I’ve come across two stories about home births here and here.

I know that I’m not a woman and there are things about pregnancy and birth I will never get. But, honestly, why does any woman think it’s a good thing to give birth to a child in a home?

I keep hearing that it’s about the “birthing experience.” Some women feel that hospitals are too impersonal and the staff is too much on auto pilot.

Not having ever been pregnant or in the throes of birth, I will still venture to say that there’s nothing pleasant about pushing a child out of your body, no matter where you do it. I will also stick my neck out there and say that given all of the pushing, tearing and such, it creates quite a medical situation that needs addressing by a professional.

My wife went through 23 hours of labor before the doctor finally decided that the baby was not turned properly. An emergency C-section was ordered. An hour later my daughter was born. Two hours after that, a doctor told us that my wife’s kidneys were not functioning properly. A few more hours after that, they said her liver was starting to shut down.

She had developed postpartum preeclampsia. Luckily, thanks to medicine, my wife recovered. Had she been at home, she may not have been so fortunate.

I understand wanting to be in a place that’s comfortable, but I’m sorry, there’s no reason to have a child in a home. It’s certainly not good enough to have it at your house because it makes it a more pleasant experience. A child’s well-being is more important than a mother’s ambience.

Is that a little sexist? Yeah. I’m sorry but it’s true. There’s a reason why births are done at hospitals, because it’s safer and when things go wrong, there’s a whole army of surgeons waiting to take over. What happens if you hemorrhage? What if you need an emergency C-section? There are too many scenarios where a midwife won’t cut it, no pun intended.

Do things go wrong at hospitals? Yes they do. People are imperfect and things get missed. But the odds are with the hospitals here. There’s not enough anecdotal evidence that proves home births are anywhere near safer than a hospital.

My underlying reason for talking about this is the reason for choosing a home birth. Why do people choose to do something because it’s “natural?” I think it’s a form of selfishness. It’s one thing to go against conventional wisdom but it’s another to refute sound medical science on the grounds that it makes you uncomfortable.

There’s also those who choose the “natural” way of doing things simply because society implores them to do what everyone else does.

But natural does not imply safer or better for that matter. Antibiotics, antiseptics and surgical tools are not natural, but they’ve saved millions of lives.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with doing research and making your own decision. In fact, I applaud that. But when you jeopardize your life and your child’s life because you want a more satisfying “experience,” then you’re being selfish.

And your child doesn’t deserve that.

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Internet Dunces

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It’s been said so many times, by friends and newsies, that the Internet is making us dumb.

Not it’s not.

The Internet is showing us just how dumb we have always been.

Instead of using the vast connection of computers, servers and backbones for meaningful communication, it’s been relegated to pornography, social media and other pointless distractions. (Well, at least social media connects friends and family, even if it’s just banal and solipsistic updates on the variety of beer people are chugging at the bar.)

When television first came to prominence seven decades ago, it was hoped that it would be used for betterment, to educate and inform. We all know how that turned out. When given the chance, people will take a medium and turn it into some form of amusement or self-aggrandizement.

No doubt the Internet would become about entertainment. The tragedy is that it could have become primarily a way of spreading credible, valuable information. In my opinion it’s only served to spread pointless, misleading and outright false wisdom. (Not me though, I spread great wisdom)

This is all obvious of course and I sound like an old sage who walks around grumbling about what could have been. I guess I need to get over it.

The worst thing though and something that needs to be fixed, is the dangerous misinformation that spreads as true and valid. I don’t mean bringing to a halt all of the celebrity death hoaxes. I am speaking mainly of sharing information and “tips” about medical care, psychiatric therapy and homeopathic solutions for cold sores.

The paragon of false wisdom movements is the vaccine/autism issue. Though thoroughly debunked by medical science, the notion spreads because so many people get together online and talk about how much they believe they’re connected. They want to believe it because it makes sense. Autistic kids begin to show symptoms of their condition after the 12-month vaccination. They need some sort of explanation and they want commiseration despite the fact there is no correlation.

The Internet fuels all of it. There’s always been bad information out there. It’s just that now we have a way of spreading it all over the world with one hit of the ‘Return’ button.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a former journalist and sharing ideas is what I’m all about. While bloggers can be such blowhards, some of them do have insight (whether I do or not I leave to you.)

How do we separate the good information from the bad? Maybe we could start by considering the source and realizing that sometimes, knowing the origin is more important than the wisdom it provides.

Not Mine

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Not long ago I saw something in the news about a village in India where men vastly outnumbered women. Seven out of 10 residents in the village are male.

I don’t want to delve into how a village got to be that way. The motivation certainly isn’t new. Societies throughout history in all corners of the world value boys more than girls and some are not afraid to weed out those pesky XX chromosomes.

The practice is despicable. It should go without saying that ALL life should be valued, not just those with a penis.

Something struck me though in the news report about the Indian village. The reporter asked one mother about her home and whether her fellow villagers understood that women are needed for a community to survive

The woman said of course families understand the serious mathematical issue with having nothing but boys, but they just don’t want the girls in their own house.

That kind of thinking has always stuck in my craw. That idea of Sure we should all make sacrifices, but not my family.

It’s just infuriating how, when we know there’s a problem, we refuse to make the necessary changes as a person and family unit to deal with it. There’s a sort of refusal to think collectively for a community rather than just your loved ones and relatives.

I watched another news report about autism and vaccines. Despite the fact there is no credible evidence of their being a link, some people insist there’s a connection. The problem is, when more and more children are not vaccinated, they affect those around them who are still susceptible to contrating those diseases.

The families who don’t vaccinate their children say they understand the problem, but they only care about their child. They would rather risk the lives of those around them than to risk their child getting autism (which again, is NOT A RISK).

A love for family is strong and that is a good thing. Homes, communities and cities are built on that simple nucleus. The beauty and tragedy of family is that it can make people who are ordinarily carefree about their own well being become emotionally committed to their loved ones. The downside to that is many take on a passive-aggressive selfishness and justify pretty despicable acts in the name of but not my family.

The solutions to all of our problems must start with the individual, then the family, then community and then society. We must realize that while our families are paramount in our lives, we all still share the same communities. The condition of that community affects the condition of family.

If we don’t learn to start with ourselves and ours, nothing will ever change and our societal ills will grow worse.

I have a young daughter. It is my mission to ensure she has a good, productive life. Part of that goal is keeping her in a community where that’s possible.

Science War

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For whatever reason, everyone these days up and down the political spectrum, are denying science. There is no regard for how much research scientists do in certain fields. Global warming, evolution, DNA, vaccines.

Evolution is just a theory. Global warming isn’t real. Vaccines cause autism. Voluminous amounts of pages are produced about these subjects but the public will eyeball the entirety of the discipline and deny it.

I think the problem is, as it always is in cases of misunderstanding, human nature. Anything that tells us something we don’t want to hear, we don’t want to believe. Take global warming, neutralized lately by deniers as “climate change,” 99 percent of climatologists have pretty much agreed that our spinning rock is getting hotter. They also agree that human activity is to blame. We use too much fossil fuels. We create too much emissions. It traps heat on the planet. Ice cores. Data modeling. It’s all there.

But, unfortunately, global warming is a commentary on our lifestyle. We are mobile animals but it comes at a cost to our surroundings. We don’t really want to believe it’s true. Fixing it requires us to change a fundamental part of our mobile structure. What are we going to do? Ride bikes? Build miles and miles of electric rail? Walk? Electric cars?

Not in this life. So what do we do? Pretend it isn’t happening? Nope. Worse. We attack the very research which proves consistently that there’s a problem.

That is the tragedy of science today. It is a whole ideology based on empirical facts and an ethic that the basis of a theory can change with discovery. It’s all about what can be perceived by senses.

But people process science like they process religion. It’s all about belief. Because people don’t understand the science behind theories, they turn to faith instead. That creates a tendency. Much like religion, people believe in something that brings them some kind of positive feeling. Saying that our driving a car is destroying our comfy world is not warm fuzzy.

I have discovered that people’s “belief” in science is often proportionate with how much they benefit by it.

Nobody questions medicine, homogenized milk or the combustible engine. But when you say the sky is getting warmer and pollution levels are high, people get defensive.

More on this.